Preston music venue The Ferret could be saved by locals as planned sale paused

Iconic Preston music venue The Ferret has secured a special status which means plans to sell the building from which it operates will have to be put on hold for six months.

Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 12:39 pm

As the Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed back in March, the Fylde Road property was put on the market and promoted as having the potential to be converted for residential use.

Although The Ferret’s lease does not expire until next year, news of the planned sale left the long-term future of the city’s only certified grassroots music facility in doubt.

Read More

Read More
Fears for the future of Preston's grassroots live music venue The Ferret after b...

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The Ferret has been a key part of Preston's music scene since 2006

However, Preston City Council has now granted an application for the property to be listed as an “asset of community value”.

Its inclusion on that register puts a temporary hold on the sale of the building in order to give the local community a chance to prepare a bid to buy it. The price tag for the part three and part four-storey venue has been set at £795,000.

Its new status does not restrict who the owner can ultimately sell to - nor at what price. Neither does it give any community group the right to first refusal on the purchase of the property.

Nevertheless, The Ferret’s general manager, Matt Fawbert, says that the listing is a positive first step - and welcome recognition of the value of The Ferret to the city.

“It makes us feel like we’re doing something worthwhile, which is great - so even if just for that reason it’s a significant thing.

“But the really great thing about it is that it just gives us that time to try and work things out - and that work starts now.

“It just slows down the [sale] process and shows any other potential buyers that there is a community around it that values The Ferret.

“Of course, it’s also being sold with the business still active - we’ve still got time on the lease. So any buyer would have to take that into account anyway, they couldn't just evict us.

"If it comes to it where the community does end up owning the whole building, then there is scope for a lot more to be done - if we can work out ways to invest in arts in the city, then we will do," Matt explained.

The operators say they plan to work with the Music Venue Trust and Preston City Council on a way forward.

The Ferret currently employs around 10 staff and has famously played host to musicians on the cusp of making the big time. Ed Sheeran appeared at the venue in the summer of 2011, just weeks before the release of his debut album.

The outlet originally opened as The Mad Ferret in 2006 and has been a cornerstone of the University of Central Lancashire’s student quarter ever since.

The part three and part four-storey property is described in a listing with Morgan Martin commercial estate agents as a “superb investment/development opportunity” with the “potential for residential conversion, subject to the appropriate consent”.